Is kunyomi always with okurigana?

With “口”, when it’s by itself like “私の口が食べます”, wouldn’t it be read as “kuchi”, the kunyomi? If kunyomi has to have okurigana, how is it supposed to be read as?

If there’s okurigana, it should be kunyomi (there might be obscure exceptions I’m not thinking of).

If it’s a single kanji by itself, it’s usually kunyomi. That’s your example.

There’s no rule that kunyomi only comes with okurigana.

The rule of thumb is typically:

  1. Kanji → Kun
  2. Kanji+Kanji+Kanji… → On
  3. Kanji+Okurigana → Kun

However there are exceptions where in case 2 you would use Kun too, such as:

  • 下町, defined in WK as “Downtown” or;
  • 近道 defined in WK as “Shortcut”

There are obviously more.
I have never come across a case where 1 or 3 are On though. Note that doesn’t mean that they do not exist, just that I have not seen them yet.

EDIT: In a similar question I just asked, @Leebo pointed out that 本 is read on its own as ほん which is the On as opposed to もと which is the Kun, so 1 can be On too. 3 as On, however, I still haven’t come across.

EDIT2: Turns out 3 is also possible. Thanks @Helix.
Also, anything is possible.


I just coincidentally posted an example in your other topic, haha. 本

Haha, and I just updated my response as you posted yours here.

It perhaps goes without saying here that we’re talking about kanji that even have both Kun and On readings, which if I remember correctly is only about 60% of the commonly used ones. About 38% have only On readings, and 2% have only Kun readings (whether they’re kokuji - kanji “invented” in Japan - or for some other reason).

I did not know those numbers. This is helpful.


To build on the whole exceptions thing, there are also words with kun-on and on-kun combos.

Off the top of my head from early levels…

太字 - ふとじ (kun-on)
草地 - くさち (kun-on)
台所 - だいどころ (on-kun)

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Off the top of my head, 信じる (しんじる) comes to mind.

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There can also be multiple on readings. I was just going to say I just this level encountered 湯気 - ゆげ (kun-on). Notably, this is not only a kun-on hybrid, but also has a different on reading to the on readings previously encountered for 気: normally you see the kan’on き, but this has the goon け (plus a bit of rendaku for good measure).

Kan’on is by far the most frequent on reading (think of it this way: the ‘kan’ in kan’on is the same as the ‘kan’ in kanji: 漢). The (historically earlier) goon and (historically later) tōsōon also exist, but usually I think they’re limited to more specialised applications. But as you can see with this example, that’s usually, not always.

This is the attitude to have :smile: Whenever you think you’ve seen every possible reading combination, you’ll find some crazy new one.

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Yeah, there are a group of single-kanji, on-yomi verbs, that went through a historical progression that resulted in them all being [single kanji]-じる


Basically, they used to slap the ending す on them, kind of like する now, and that morphed over time.


I didn’t know だい was the on’yomi for 台… that would make that an example of single kanji word read using the on’yomi I guess?

Incidentally, I wish WK would have went with the “stand/platform” meaning there, or at least put in 台 itself as a vocab word so you don’t go initially around thinking that word means machine.

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Literally just learned this yesterday. Praise be to the crabigator and all but sometimes…

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